Young Animals Experienced With Poor Quality Forage Will Do Better Throughout Life

This was originally published in May of 2015. Spring is always a good time to remember this. Many livestock, particularly those making a living on rangelands, encounter poor-quality forages at some point in the grazing season or during the winter, (less than 7% crude protein and 50% TDN). But that doesn't have to be a problem. We've found that introducing them to poor-quality roughage early in life with their mothers actually makes them more productive over their lifetimes. And, not giving them this early experience, but instead feeding replacement females high-quality diets, may actually make it harder for them to maintain weight and reproduce on poor-quality rangeland or on forages high in toxins. Here are some examples of what our research has demonstrated about how exposure to poor-quality or high-toxin forages early in life can increase intake and preference for certain forages and improve productivity of your livestock. Increasing How Much of a Poor-Quality Forage Animals Will Eat In this example we looked at goat kids who learned to eat poor-quality forages from their mothers before they were weaned. We used Blackbrush, a low-quality, high-tannin forage that grows in southern Utah. Goat kids foraged on blackbrush with their mo

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2 thoughts on “Young Animals Experienced With Poor Quality Forage Will Do Better Throughout Life

  1. We’ve just completed studies showing that calves exposed in utero to high fiber diets both consume and digest high fiber foods such as wheat straw better than calves exposed in utero to low fiber diets. Greater digestible dry matter intake is important for pregnant cows and their offspring that winter under extensive conditions on dormant forages where their energy requirements are only marginally satisfied for many months. Those cows and their offspring are likely better adapted to using dormant forages during winter. Fred Provenza Utah State University.

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